Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Hazelnut Truffles

This truffle is a good, good truffle. I played around with a few recipes, tweaked my own a little and came up with these beauties. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Hazelnut Truffles

2C semi sweet chocolate
3/4C Nutella
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1T vanilla
2C milk chocolate
Sea Salt, Cinnamon Chips or White Chocolate

Melt semi sweet chocolate in a double boiler and stir in Nutella. Add sweetened condensed milk and stir till it's "fluffy". Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (to firm up). Roll into 30-50 balls (depending on the size truffle you desire) and place on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Melt milk chocolate and dip your truffles. Line on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt (as I did mine) or drizzle with melted cinnamon chips or white chocolate... whatever you like! Allow to set and then arrange in little papers or a box. These are delicious and make a nice gift.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peace, Love, Joy, Gratitude, Appreciation and Awards

I have been awarded two precious blog awards from two VERY precious people and it is time for me to thank them and pass this gift along. This past year (and a half) has been the toughest of my life. We are nearing the end of December and I see light and I feel such thankfulness for having experienced what I have experienced and so abundantly grateful for bloggers I have come into contact with that the following 2 awards are easy to pass on...

My first blog award ever was rewarded to me by Tracy of Sugar Crafter and I was so touched because Tracy is such a creative and genuine person. We have become "blogging pen pals" and send one another little baking goodies and recipes each month. Thank you Tracy for your lovely blog, for awarding me this honor and for our new friendship.

The idea behind this award is to "spread the love" so I am thrilled to award some of my favorite bloggers with the "One Lovely Blog Award" and the rules are as follows:

1. Link to the person who awarded you
2. Award some of your favorite bloggers
3. Comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been awarded and...
4. Spread some joy!

In no particular order, I'd like to award:

Becky of Vintage Mixer for having a truly lovely blog. She is also a truly lovely person. She not only cooks and posts excellent recipes, she dines and enjoys good food and good company which I so appreciate and admire. She loves and supports her talented husband and has become a friend of mine quickly. We live in the same city and have the opportunity of getting to know each other in person. She and I have what we call "a special connection".

Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod for having a very impressive blog. She really takes this seriously and is committed to her blog. It is an excellent resource and you can always count on a wonderfully delicious dish (or Maria's specialty... cookies!!!). Maria and I also live in the same city and have the opportunity to spend time together and become friends. How lucky am I? We have spent some good times together and I am so thankful for her.

Heather of Bebe and Alice for her generous spirit and incredibly beautiful blog. She does not cook... this is an eco-friendly-reduce/reuse/recycle-insanely talented blog! She is a brilliant seamstress/designer and I am floored by the things she posts. She is also one of the most precious people I have come to know through this whole Twitter/Blog world. Plus she likes Charlie and Lola so... we were a hit from the get go!

Barbara from Barbara Bakes for her genuinely scrumptious blog! Barbara is a computer smartie and assists me with my pathetic lack of computer skills, she is a cook among cooks and posts amazing dishes as well as baked goods. Yes, yes... we live in the same city :) Again, I have come to know Barbara and am a better person because of it. She is so great to be around! How is it that SLC got so many incredible foodies? I do not know but I am blessed because of it.

Ladies, thank you for making a difference in my life and for your friendship. You all have such wonderful blogs and personalities! I am thankful for each of you.

My second award was given to me from Barbara (Barbara Bakes) and is the Lemonade Stand Gratitude Award. Thank you Barbara! I told you I was a better person for having known her! The rules are as follows:

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Nominate 10 nominees and link to them
3. Comment on their blog to let them know they have won
4. Link back to the person who awarded you and...
5. Share how you have come to have an attitude of gratitude

In no particular order:

1. Cristie from The Table Runner
2. Holly from PheMomenon
3. Susan from She's Becoming Doughmesstic
4. Becky from Vintage Mixer
5. Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod
6. Heather from Bebe and Alice
7. Jamie from Life's A Feast
8. Tracy from Sugar Crafter
9. Krista from The Double Dipped Life
10. Monica from Life to the Fullest!

How I have come to have an attitude of gratitude would fill this entire post. I am grateful. I am grateful to be my husbands wife, my daughter's mommies, my parents daughter, my sister's sister, a woman, a friend, free and most of all grateful to be loved and to love because He first loved me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Brunch and Cookies (shortbread with cranberries and pumpkin seeds)

We have a lot of wonderful food bloggers here in Utah. I have connected with a fantastic group and had the opportunity to dine with some of them yesterday. Holly (PheMomenon) arranged a holiday cookie swap and had an idea to make it a brunch date at The Wild Grape Bistro, which Maria (TwoPeasandPod) arranged. What a treat! I got to meet 3 new friends; Kalyn (Kalynskitchen), Dara (CookinCanuck) and Chris (Melecotte) as well as catch up with my dear friends Cristie (TheTableRunner), her sweet daughter Candace (ALittleblog), Barbara (BarbaraBakes) and Becky (VintageMixer). You can not go wrong with a group like this. We all cook, we all know how to eat and we all brought cookies! Let's not leave out fun conversation either. I have to hand it to The Wild Grape Bistro as well. They had us all set up at a nice table, had a very capable server handle our group, served us delicious food, treated us to a treat and allowed us to climb and crawl all over the restaurant to take photos of the cookies and food! This is the second time our group has met there and we are all very impressed. Let's get on with it, shall we? The food:
Drooling yet? From the top: "The Grape" Salad, Fruit and Yogurt Plate, Brioche French Toast, Blue Corn Waffle, The Grape's "Benedict". All gorgeous and all delicious! Onto the cookies:

Once more, from the top (I linked to each blogger above so I will just mention names now... be sure to check out these amazing blogs!) I want to allow them to post their own versions of our day so in order of cookie appearance: Dara, Cristie, Candace, Maria, Becky, Chris, Barbara and Holly. Kalyn opted to not bring cookies as she is on a restricted diet and mine are to follow...

Shortbread with cranberries and pumpkin seeds

2 1/3C flour

1/2t salt
1C unsalted butter (room temp)
2/3C sugar

1t vanilla
3/4C dried cranberries

3/4C pumpkin seeds

Cream butter until very smooth (2 minutes), add sugar and beat until very creamy, then add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and combine well. Add cranberries and pumpkin seeds and combine. Halve the dough and form 2 logs (on sheets of plastic wrap). I like to make mine square but have made round as well as rectangle logs before. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 325 and unwrap one log at a time. Slice each log into medium thin slices and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

These cookies are festive with the red and green colors as well as being crisp and buttery... just as shortbread should be!

Yesterday was a great afternoon with talented and interesting foodie friends. Check out The Hive for a complete rundown soon! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Perfect Fondue (for cheaters)

This fondue is delicious! This fondue is easy! This fondue gets oooh's and ahhh's whenever it is served and this fondue makes a fun holiday get-together. I have taught this fondue in classes and I promise you... you're gonna love it.

3T olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1 large can cream of mushroom soup (yeah, that's right!)
1/3C milk
1/3C beef broth
8-10 ounces shredded fontina cheese
1T kirsch (cherry liqueur)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and add garlic. Saute' slightly and add soup, stir and add milk and broth. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and stir the cheese in 4 parts, whisking thoroughly after each addition. Add kirsch and season.

You are done! The sauce should be thick so it will cling to your food and if you are using an electric pot, transfer the sauce from the pan to the pot now. If you are using a pan set, place the pan over heat now.

I like to serve seared beef and chicken along with raw zucchini, carrots and mushrooms. Tear up a french loaf and you have a complete fondue dinner in less than 45 minutes.

Cream of Mushroom: I know, I know... it seems strange but it is incredible in this fondue! It replaces corn starch and butter.
Kirsch: Kirsch is a cherry liqueur and is used in most fondue (dessert and non).